Editorial: Country's leaders playing dangerous game
October 30, 2012
One thing all sides appear to agree on is that sequestration, like the use of nuclear weapons, was never supposed to happen.
The word sequestration entered today's popular lexicon during the summer of 2011 in the midst of budget battles between Congress and the White House.
A so-called congressional supercommittee that couldn't agree on a deficit-reducing budget instead voted on a package of $1.2 trillion in "across the board" cuts that will go into effect next year unless Congress can reach a new deal by Nov. 23.
Social Security and some Defense programs were exempted, but most of the rest of the federal government will face substantial budget cuts without an agreement.
The estimated hit on jobs in New Mexico: 20,000.
The rest of the "fiscal cliff" comes in the form of tax cuts due to expire at the end of this year.
A study released this month by the National Association of Manufacturers says just the threat of the fiscal cliff already has wiped out about 1 million jobs nationwide this year.
And just about every politician now running for federal office agrees that implementation of sequestration would be disastrous.
President Obama, in the last debate with Mitt Romney, tried to pass the buck for the idea of sequestration to Congress.
"First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed," he said. " It is something that Congress has proposed."
But Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, no friend of the Republicans by any means, says his reporting shows that whether Obama knew about it, the idea did originate in his administration.
Just the previous week, Obama appeared to draw a dangerous line in the sand.
Administration officials, presumably with his knowledge this time, said the president was prepared to veto legislation that would take action to avoid the fiscal cliff and sequestration unless Republicans bow to his demand to raise tax rates on households making more than $250,000.
While raising those taxes might be good politics, it won't do much to stanch the flow of red ink and certainly wouldn't be worth pushing the nation off the fiscal cliff to get.
Also during the last debate, without saying how, Obama said, "It (sequestration) will not happen."
In the end, the nation's leaders are playing a dangerous game of chicken where failure to apply the brakes in time could end up raising taxes for nearly 90 percent of American households, causing deep cuts in domestic and military spending and very possibly throwing the nation back into recession.
And this time, the car heading toward the cliff is not being driven by a couple of fictional characters like Thelma and Louise.
— Albuquerque Journal